Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show British Cargo Ship Rubymar Sinking After Houthi Attack

Fact Check

  • by: Rebaz Majeed
Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show British Cargo Ship Rubymar Sinking After Houthi Attack 2013 Oman

Does a video capture the British cargo ship Rubymar sinking after being targeted by Houthis? No, that's not true: The video shows the cargo bulk carrier Atlantic Confidence near the island of Masirah in Oman. It's from 2013, well predating the ongoing Houthi attacks on vessels in the Red Sea, which began after the outbreak of the Hamas-Israel conflict on October 7, 2024.

The claim appeared in a video (archived here) on TikTok by @donglao.defence on February 19, 2024, with a text overlay that reads:

Video posted by Houthi British Cargo Ship 'Rubymar,, sank after a missile attack

This is what the post looked like on TikTok at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-02-27 at 17.21.27.png

(Source: TikTok screenshot taken on Tue Feb 27 16:20:26 2024 UTC)

An audio in Arabic was added to the images. Translated to English by Lead Stories staff, it said:

With the missile force and the unmanned air force in the Yemeni armed forces, a joint military operation with a large number of ballistic and naval missiles and drones.

The audio has been taken from a public statement (archived here) released by Yahya Sarea, military spokesman for Yemen's Houthis, on January 10, 2024, to announce an attack against an unidentified "American ship."

The Houthis (archived here) are an Iranian-backed group in Yemen that carries out attacks (archived here) on ships in the Red Sea, claiming (archived here) to be responding to Israel's bombardment of Gaza, which followed Hamas' attack on Israel on October 7, 2023.

Lead Stories did a Google search (archived here) using the terms "British cargo ship Rubymar Yemen Houthi sank" on February 28, 2024. The search results showed a report by the BBC (archived here) published on February 21, 2024, titled "Red Sea: New images show British ship Rubymar has not sunk." The report includes a photo of the British ship Rubymar with the caption "The BBC has obtained images which show vessel afloat but down by the stern." The photo of the ship confirms that the British ship Rubymar is not the same vessel as the one depicted in the video on TikTok.

This is what the photo looked like in the BBC report at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-02-28 at 14.18.38.png

(Source: BBC screenshot taken on Wed Feb 28 13:19:56 2024 UTC)

A reverse image search on Google Lens of a snippet from the video on TikTok (archived here) uncovered a YouTube video (archived here) uploaded by @maksymbalyuk7649 on December 20, 2015. The video's title was (translated from Russian to English by Lead Stories staff) "the ship is sinking before our eyes." The caption of the video (as translated) read:

The Turkish ship Atlantic Confidence was abandoned by its crew on March 30, 2013, next to Masira Island in Oman after a fire that started in the engine room sunk the next day on March 31, 2013

This is what the video looked like on YouTube at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-02-28 at 00.41.47.png

(Source: YouTube screenshot taken on Wed Feb 28 13:11:19 2024 UTC)

A Google search (archived here) using the terms "ATLANTIK CONFIDENCE Turkish Masirah (Oman)" led to a report (archived here) released by NATO on March 30, 2013, titled "NATO Indian Ocean Task Force involved in dramatic rescue of burning bulk carrier." The NATO report, which featured photos of the carrier and verified it as the same one as in the video on TikTok, stated:

Early this morning, off the island of Masirah (Oman), the cargo bulk carrier 'Atlantic Confidence', Liberian flag, reported to have a fire in the engine room and requested assistance. Upon receiving the message, Admiral Antonio Natale, Commander of the NATO Task Force engaged in the fight against piracy off the Horn of Africa, promptly ordered the nearest vessel under his command, the frigate USS Nicholas to proceed at maximum speed and assist.

  Rebaz Majeed

Rebaz Majeed is a fact-checker at Lead Stories. He is a multilingual freelance journalist and researcher. He worked for five years as a reporter for Voice of America (VOANews) in Iraq. Currently, he is pursuing his MA in Interdisciplinary Studies of the Middle East at Free Berlin University. Rebaz brings extensive knowledge and expertise to his role at LeadStories.

Read more about or contact Rebaz Majeed

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